SONGS FOR HUMANISTS?

By Barry Klassel

What do you miss, if anything, from your former religious affiliations?  I once asked this of students in a humanist group at Rutgers.  The first answer I got was “music, singing.”  There are those who, like my wife, attend religious services in large part for the wonderful sense of personal and communal engagement engendered by joining others in song.  For many of us, I’ll bet, the joy of singing or listening to favorite music is a welcome release from the stress of the work week.  Being open to the inspiration found in music can help us become more expressive and more rounded human beings.  Of course this is only if we do so willingly and not out of the need to conform.

I think we should start to be aware of the music that expresses human ideals and human struggles, whether or not it was written by or explicitly for humanists, so that we can think of ways we might incorporate such music into our lives. 

I did a memorial ceremony last weekend where the family asked me to include the songs printed below.  The songs are about the power of compassion and the camaraderie of sharing our tiny planet, both elements of the humanist perspective.  Guests resisted my request to sing together and I think they thereby missed an opportunity to passionately express the humane vision of their deceased family member and friend.  They may have demurred out of shyness, unfamiliarity with the material or each other, philosophical opposition or some other reason.  My questions to my reader is – Can we and should we find a place for beautiful songs such as these in our group experiences as humanists?  Performances can be easily located on YouTube.  

What do you think?

 

Echoes (Dar Williams)

Every time you love just a little
Take one step closer, solving a riddle
It echoes all over the world
Every time you opt in to kindness
Make one connection, used to divide us
It echoes all over the world
Ahh, ahh, ahh

Every time you choose one more morning
Goodness or meanness, life has one warning
It echoes all over the world
When a leader gets the hungry fed food 

When you just make love inside your bedroom
It echoes all over the world
Ahh, ahh, ahhAhh, ahh, ahh
All over the world

Every time you love just a little
Take one step closer, solving a riddle
It echoes all over the world
It echoes all over the world
It echoes all over the world
It echoes all over the world
All over the world,…….(etc.)

Blue Boat Home (Peter Mayer, Prichard)

Though below me, I feel no motion
Standing on these mountains and plains
Far away from the rolling ocean
Still my dry land heart can say
I’ve been sailing all my life now
Never harbor or port have I known
The wide universe is the ocean I travel
And the earth is my blue boat home

Sun, my sail, and moon my rudder
As I ply the starry sea
Leaning over the edge in wonder
Casting questions into the deep
Drifting here with my ship’s companions 

All we kindred pilgrim souls
Making our way by the lights of the heavens
In our beautiful blue boat home

I give thanks to the waves upholding me
Hail the great winds urging me on
Greet the infinite sea before me
Sing the sky my sailor’s song
I was born upon the fathoms
Never harbor or port have I known
The wide universe is the ocean I travel
And the earth is my blue boat home

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2 Responses to SONGS FOR HUMANISTS?

  1. Were you aware that there is a British Humanist Association Choir? http://bhachoir.humanist.org.uk/ The BHA had (maybe still has) a composer in residence. The first was William Morris who composed quite abit of music with Humanist ceremonies in mind. Just thought you would like to know.
    Regards from across the pond,
    Josh

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